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basjoos 10-27-2008 10:28 AM

Gotta rebuild the boattail
On Sunday morning at 4:30AM I was driving to work at the PSL of 60mph as usual when, unknown to me at the time, there was also someone out driving a blue car who decided to take advantage of the cheaper gas and the reduced likelihood of encountering the highway patrol at 4:30AM on Sunday to test out the high speed capabilities of their car. You could tell they were a total neophyte at high speed driving since they weren't staying in the passing lane (irregularities in the road are magnified at high speeds and the passing lane is smoother because of its reduced amount of heavy truck traffic). They also didn't realize that their maneuverability is greatly reduced at speed and it takes much more time and distance to change lanes when clearing obstacles in their lane. One of the obstacles that they didn't lead out far enough when changing lanes was my car. They slammed into the back of my car at 100+mph while in the midst of moving onto the passing lane so there was about a 1/3 overlap between the front of their car and the rear of my car at the point of collision. I ended up spinning 540 degrees and guiding my car into the breakdown lane while rolling backwards at 20mph. The other car didn't stop, the other driver probably having thoughts on their mind such as the unreasonability of the highway patrol toward people doing 100+ in a 60 and their propensity of doing things like confiscating driver's license on the spot from said people.

Fortunately the boattail worked as designed and having that additional 3 feet of crush space on the back of my car saved the day. The collision used up 2.5 feet of the boattail's crush space and the damage didn't even reach to my car's original bumper still in place under the boattail. There was also some damage on the front where a corner of my nosepiece clipped a guardrail as I was spinning my way down the interstate. This impact also took out the right side headlight and marker light. The car ended up being completely drivable with practically no damage to the original frame of the car. All I had to do was to bend the taillights so they faced rearwards rather then to the side and down, where the collision ended up putting them and the car was perfectly drivable. The aerodynamics suffered from the collision, so I only got 68mpg rather then the expected 70mpg on the drive home.

So now I just need to rebuild the crunched left side of the boattail, replace the cracked lexan rear window, and repair the front right corner of the nosepiece. With the exception of the headlight assembly, I have all the parts I need here at the farm. The materials cost is less than $200, so I don't even reach the deductable on my insurance. I'm sure the high speed enthusiast will have a much higher repair bill awaiting them to repair the damage to their front end. I'm going to take advantage to the rebuild to address a few deficiencies in the current boattail design and to put a brighter array of LED lights on the tail. Physically I am fine other than a slightly stiff neck.

MazdaMatt 10-27-2008 10:55 AM

That's a heck of a positive attitude (possibly tongue in cheeck) to a high speed collision. Good luck with your rebuild, and if they find him, rebuild it all with carbon fibre on his bill... since the first one did cost in excess of 2000 dollars to build, which will be difficult with your horribly debilitating neck injury that will cost you 4 years of work :)

Daox 10-27-2008 11:21 AM

Wow, thats quite the story. I'm very glad to see you're pretty much okay.

Incredible contratulations on building something enough to take a hit like that too! It sounds like it stood up amazingly well considering the situation.

Did you call the police? I'm guessing you didn't even get a look at the other car with it going that fast.

trebuchet03 10-27-2008 11:50 AM

Awesome that the boat tail functioned the way it did in the not so optimal circumstances

Any pictures of the aftermath? Showing your boat tail as a safety device :p

tasdrouille 10-27-2008 12:14 PM

Wow, glad to hear you're ok, the rest is just sheet metal afterall.

I don't know how it works in the states, but last year I had a hit and run. A month later, I went to a local body shop asking how much they would charge if paid cash, cause I had a 1k deductible on the car. Well the guy told me to call my insurance company cause as far as he knew there is no deductible when you're victim of a hit an run. Sure enough, that's what I was told when I called, plus it did not even count as a claim. Luckilly I had filed a police report the day of the accident, cause the insurance company was skeptical when I called a month after the accident.

Funny 10-27-2008 12:35 PM

Sorry to hear about the car, you'll have it back up to better than new in no time though. Glad to hear you're not suffering from any injuries other than a serious case of suppressed aggression :mad:.

I would call around and see if any of the body shops in the area took in any vehicles with severely damaged front ends, it's not hard to spot white spray paint left on a car hood ;).

And if your crumple zone was increased that much, that almost no damage was done to anything but the boat tail, I'd take lots of photos and send them to auto makers and show them what a ~100MPH rear ending of a car doing 60MPH really looks like! :thumbup:

Maybe it's time to revamp the boat tail...

McTimson 10-27-2008 02:26 PM

The guy probably thought he hit a UFO or something when he nailed the boat tail, so he figured he better leave!

It's amazing how much that must have absorbed the impact though...the momentum difference from 100mph to 60mph is huge, and to walk away with a stiff neck is great. Good luck repairing it!

orange4boy 10-27-2008 05:56 PM

Wow! Glad to hear you are o.k. We are always reminded here to see our doctor after an accident even if you don't feel injured because neck injuries sometimes don't show up right after the accident.

Take care.

SVOboy 10-27-2008 06:28 PM

Glad you're okay! You'd better make sure that fool chips in some money for all the time you spent on that!

Tango Charlie 10-27-2008 08:37 PM

Very relieved to hear you escaped a potentially deadly mishap. (ditto on getting the neck looked at)

On the other hand, disappointed you lost the 2 mpg on the way home afterward. ;)

Looking forward to the rebuild. You know the Ecomodder battle cry; "We want pictures!" :p

bbjsw10 10-27-2008 09:52 PM

Sorry to hear about your Misfortunes.:( Glad you are ok and the car survived with minimal damage, Let's see a Prius do that. :turtle:

cfg83 10-27-2008 10:14 PM

1 Attachment(s)
basjoos -

Youch, that was a close shave!!!!!!!!!!!

Kudos on the attitude. I was side-smacked by a drunk while PARKED and I was in no way shape or form looking forward to getting it fixed (I hate filling out forms).


Compaq888 10-28-2008 02:57 AM

It's unbelievable how people have the nerve to hit and run. Especially parking, they will hit you, and just walk off like nothing happened.

TomO 10-28-2008 11:11 AM

Glad to hear that you're ok, and in good spirits. I commend you on your building skills and durability of your boattail!

Karma will prevail for the hit&runner, hopefully you'll be able to see it come to fruition.

basjoos 10-28-2008 12:54 PM

Here are photos of the damage.

trebuchet03 10-28-2008 01:12 PM


Sad sad pictures... I've been watching your progress since you started.... that totally sucks. But, hopefully it will be phoenix like, and be better in rebirth :D

Red 10-28-2008 01:14 PM

Wow on the damage, glad your ok basjoos

bryn 10-28-2008 01:24 PM

terrible news, glad you are ok.
i wonder if the width of your taillights threw him off. at 100+ mph, he probably thought he had more space to change lanes. i'm not excusing him but maybe some side markers, or something to show the full width of the car, would prevent future problems. as long as you have to rebuild anyhow.

trebuchet03 10-28-2008 02:07 PM


Originally Posted by bryn (Post 69642)
i wonder if the width of your taillights threw him off. at 100+ mph, he probably thought he had more space to change lanes. i'm not excusing him but maybe some side markers, or something to show the full width of the car, would prevent future problems. as long as you have to rebuild anyhow.

I don't necessarily disagree with full width markers.... But I don't think that's why it happened... I mean, it looks like epicenter of the hit is on the driver's side, sidemarker :/

99metro 10-28-2008 02:09 PM

Glad you're ok. That really sucks. It's good you were able to maintain composure as you were writing! Time to upgrade that boattail anyway, right?

My biggest fear are those who are still in my lane as they pass. Happens more often than I'd like.

wyatt 10-28-2008 02:19 PM

1. Glad you are ok.
2. Great excuse to build a boat tail (safety).
3. All that damage and only dropped you by 2mpg?!
4. What do you plan on doing to improve the design of the tail? It looked pretty good to me... a more gradual transition?
5. Do you plan on putting in an opening on the nose that can be opened and closed to help regulate temp? I know you had mentioned it before, and you have to do work on it anyway.

basjoos 10-28-2008 06:42 PM

I'm planning to improve the functionality of the hatch, the original design was a bit clumsy to operate.

I had installed an active grill opening in the nose below the stagnation point two weeks also but hadn't had time to post the pics. I had also blended the front wheel spoiler, front wheel well skirt, side skirts, rear wheel well skirt, and rear wheel boattail into a single flowing unit rather than their existing as separate discrete components. I had completed the outside and was working on the design of the inside wheel well skirts, but further work on this will have to await until after I get done repairing the collision damage.

metroschultz 10-29-2008 12:30 AM

I too, am glad you are OK.
We'll be looking forward to the restoration of your ride to its previous glory.
As for the turd who hit you,...
He's calling the Weekly World News right now to tell them that the invasion of the Earth has begun and he single-handedly stopped E.T. in his tracks.

Chris D. 10-29-2008 03:16 AM

glad you made it out intact..

any ideas what he was driving? I'm sure you'll see him again..

basjoos 10-29-2008 08:17 AM

No idea what he/she was driving. It was at night so all I saw was a fast moving set of headlights. The crash damage was at car bumper height (the tip of the boattail is at truck bumper height), and blue paint scrapes on my car.

MetroMPG 10-29-2008 11:22 PM

Mike: glad you're OK and that the aerocivic will live to see another day (we have the technology - we can rebuild it!). As others have said: your response to the entire situation is impressive too.

Not defending the idiot driver who rammed you, but as bryn mentioned, I also wonder about the close-together tail lights in the tip of the boat tail: is it possible they may give the impression to a following driver that your car is further away than it actually is?

I think you should make an insurance claim if for no other reason than to see the look on the face of the guy at the body shop when you ask them to make it good as new! :)

basjoos 10-30-2008 09:12 AM

I plan to add a more spectacular red LED lightshow to the back of the boattail including more running lights on the sides of the boattail.

A bodyshop wouldn't know what to do what to do with the boattail (I'd have better luck at an aircraft repair shop) and besides the repair costs will be less than my insurance deductible.

Johnny Mullet 11-02-2008 10:58 PM

At least you did not get hurt. That is the important thing.

Compaq888 11-02-2008 11:44 PM


Originally Posted by basjoos (Post 70084)

A bodyshop wouldn't know what to do what to do with the boattail (I'd have better luck at an aircraft repair shop)


Tango Charlie 11-03-2008 10:00 AM


Originally Posted by basjoos (Post 70084)
....I'd have better luck at an aircraft repair shop....

Funny, yes. But got me seriously thinking. It may be worth your while to seek out your local EAA chapter.(Use the 'Locate a Chapter' link in the bar on the right side of the page.)

EAA: Experimental Aircraft Association. These guys build small airplanes in their garages and hangars.

The chapter at my local airport have an informal burger cookout most Saturdays during the summer, and welcome anyone who may walk up. A good chapter would more than likely be very interested in your project, and be able to dispense a lot of advice on materials and repair techniques. They may have tools that would help in your repairs, as well.

This is not to say that you are not well able to repair your car yourself! I just thought these guys might be a valuable asset to you.

I also know of another chapter that consists of a bunch of old crotchety codgers that don't build anything and just have meetings about how their airport is going to hell in a handbag. If you run into one of those, keep looking. I would hope they're in the minority.

aspera 11-04-2008 10:47 PM

I think they make a one-piece drag racing fiberglass front end for your Civic. It replaces everybody panel ahead of the firewall. IIRC, they come in a widebody version. Since they're fiberglass (maybe) you could fiberglass over the wheel wells since you're using narrow tires instead of wide drag slicks. They you'd just have to find a way to limit your front steering angle a bit. No moving fender parts. You might be able to play with wheel offset or use different control arms to make a narrow track setup for your now solid state fully-skirted Civic.

It looks like you'd be able to tweak a one-piece nose to your use. You could mount it higher than normal for instance. That would raise the hood to shroud your wipers. You could also build a frame and mount the whole thing on hood hinges. It would basically be one BIG hood. You'd have great access to your engine bay. ;)

You could drill some holes in the nose for radiator cooling or you could move the radiator back to your new boattail {hint hint}. 90mm Hella headlights would be an easy to mount lighting upgrade. Drill some holes and wire them up.

MazdaMatt 11-05-2008 08:26 AM

Basjoos, Aspera is absolutely correct. I have a road-race Del Sol and I pulled off the hood, fenders and bumper and replaced them all with a one-piece front-end. It was 900CDN and totally worth the cost. The lines are smoothed out and the fenders are flared at the front edge and top. It was very simple to mount it. I cut a hole for the rad, but it wasn't really needed unless driving at racing pace. It does have a slightly high "point", but it could easily be extended downward. I don't have any small post-able pics of it, pm me your email and i can send it.

basjoos 11-05-2008 08:19 PM

Thanks for the info, but those fiberglass front ends would break my car mod budget. Everything I do to my car must pay for itself in fuel savings within a year or I don't do it. My entire budget for rebuilding my car from this accident is $200. It would cost several times that just to buy a fiberglass front end.

So far on the boat tail I have rebuilt the aluminum bar frame, mounted the sheet metal skin, and completed the electrical work. Next up is to line the interior with sheet plastic, rebuild and reglaze the hatch, and then repair the damage to the front end. This is a busy time of year for me since I've have had my first winter frost and I am busy clearing out the frost blasted summer vegetables, setting up cloches, and planting the winter crop.

TestDrive 11-06-2008 01:47 AM


Originally Posted by basjoos (Post 70084)
I plan to add a more spectacular red LED lightshow to the back of the boattail including more running lights on the sides of the boattail.

Have you considered including reflective tape in the mix?

Bullyveldt 11-06-2008 05:46 PM

I hope you made a police report in the small case that the guy is found.

When I was working in Alberta I loved how the collision damage was supposed to work. If someone attended a body shop to get work done they required a small slip from a police force, which they recieved after reporting their collision. Shops are legally not allowed to work on a damaged car unless it has one of these stickers. That way if a hit and run occurs, the police can do a fan out to the local body shops to call if someone is looking to get a car fixed without a sticker. We caught a few guys that way.

I know few places do that but if you don't report it, buddy won't get found, if you do, the worst that happens is he won't get found.

Glad you are safe and I'm interested to see how the new mods turn out.

basjoos 11-06-2008 07:19 PM

A policeman was at the scene and took down my data. No idea what, if anything, resulted from it.

Bullyveldt 11-06-2008 07:35 PM


Originally Posted by basjoos (Post 71216)
A policeman was at the scene and took down my data. No idea what, if anything, resulted from it.

Good stuff. So is most of your cars aero mods done in sheet tin or aluminum? Thats what it looked like when I saw the pics. And I think the idea one mentioned about talking with aviation engineers or group is an idea.

basjoos 11-07-2008 08:42 AM

I initially made the aero mods in coroplast and clear vinyl, then rebuilt them in the more durable, but pricier, aluminum sheet and plexiglas once they had proved themselves.

basjoos 11-07-2008 08:50 AM


Originally Posted by TestDrive (Post 71091)
Have you considered including reflective tape in the mix?

It might be fine from the side, but wouldn't work for vehicles approaching from the rear since my boattail has very little rearward facing area, and most of that is taken up by the license plate. Also a bright red self-illuminated taillight would be visible from futher back than a reflector that is depends on retro-reflecting another vehicle's headlights (important when dealing with 100+ mph would be tailgaters).

Tango Charlie 11-07-2008 09:39 AM

I know you do your mods in the most economical way you can, but I can't stop thinking of aircraft technology in regards to your boattail. :p Wouldn't it be neat to have aviation position lights on the sides of your boattail? :cool:

Of course, the green lens would have to be replaced with another red one, and those little buggers aren't cheap. I know, because I've dropped one! :o

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